West Africa harmonizes medicine registration

A medicine registered in one ECOWAS country, will be automatically registered in the other 14 member states

A medicine registered in one ECOWAS country, will be automatically registered in the other 14 member states

ACCRA – West African countries launched on Monday a project on easy and standard registration of medicines produced in the sub-region.

"It will help to streamline the regulatory assessment for new drug applications and reduces the time and resources needed for drug development in the sub-region," said Ghana's Health Minister Kwaku Agyemang-Mensah.

He launched the West Africa Medicines Registration Harmonization Project during a meeting a high-level meeting of the 15-member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Accra.

"Today marks yet another milestone in the realization of the ECOWAS protocol," asserted Mensah. "As a region, we share a common burden in terms of mobility and mortality."

The minister said the move will offer significant benefit to the pharmaceutical industry and public health care.

A three-day meeting of health ministers and heads of all national medicines regulatory authorities from ECOWAS member states kicked off earlier Monday.

They are expected to discuss the African Union Model Law for National Medicine Regulatory Authorities.

The officials will adopt a common standard that will allow each country the power to register medicines that can be used across the sub-region.

Health officials have been working on developing the common registration procedure for close to five years.

Joseph Yileh Chireh, the chairman for Ghana's Parliamentary Select Committee on Health, told the meeting they are ready to give legal backing to the process.

"After the harmonization, there will be the need for proper legislation to be done and what we want to do is to get engaged with all the people ahead of that," he said.

Sybil Ossei Agyeman Yeboah, an official with Essential Medicine and Vaccines at the West African Health Organization (WAHO), underlined the importance of the move.

"Normally, when medicines are being registered, it takes long time for the registration process to go, sometimes as long as three years for a process that can take a few months," she told The Anadolu Agency.

"Each country has a standard of registration and you have to tune in to what they require of you anytime," Yeboah said.

She noted that registration of new drugs among ECOWAS member states usually runs in long delays due to logistical challenges.

"If one country takes one year or two [to register], it means somebody in another country cannot have it," Yeboah said.

"That is where counterfeit draws in because people need it but it has not been registered," added the official.

"We will have a common document translated in three languages so that when Ghana registers, there will be confidence and trust developed," she told AA.

"This is because when Ghana registers a medicine, we know Ghana will take time because they are not registering for only the Ghanaian market but for all the 365 million people in the fifteen member states," she added.

The three-day meeting is attending by officials from the African Union, World Bank and the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), an AU strategic framework for pan-African socio-economic development.

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